Written By: Heather Crook
The Cats musical was written by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber in the late 1970s. The musical is based on T.S Eliot’s collection of feline-inspired poems entitled Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. Originally written in 1939, Lloyd Webber brought his production to life on the London stage in 1981. Trevor Nunn served as the show’s director.
The plot introduces many cat characters who tell their tales through song and dance. The musical’s most famous character is Grizabella the glamor cat who wishes to relive her younger days in the musicals most famous song Memory. The center of the plot revolves around the character Old Deuteronomy whose task it is to choose a cat to travel with him to the Heaviside Layer and be reborn. After several cats share their tales with Old Deuteronomy he chooses Grizabella to journey with him to the Heaviside Layer.
The musical won two Laurence Olivier Awards for its 1981 West End run including Best New Musical and Best Choreography. It opened on Broadway in 1982 and won multiple Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Original Score, and Best Actress for Betty Buckley who portrayed the character Grizabella. Cats closed on Broadway in 2000 after 7,485 performances, making it the second longest-running musical in Broadway history.
Cats musical boasts upbeat music and exciting choreography, making it a great choice for audience members of all ages. This family-friendly musical continues in performance today and tours throughout the world. Current international tours include the United Kingdom, Germany, and Japan as well as the national tour in the United States. A film of the Cats musical was produced in 1998 by director David Mallet and features many of the original London cast members including the original Grizabella Elaine Paige and Sir John Mills as Gus the Theatre Cat.